Hebrews 11

The Word Made Fresh

1Now faith is the assurance of the things we have hoped for; it is the certainty of things unseen. 2After all, our forebearers were approved by faith. 3And through faith we understand that the worlds were all created by God’s word, and the things we can see were not made from what can be seen.

4By faith, Abel’s sacrifice was more acceptable to God than Cain’s, and because of this he was approved as being righteous because God approved of his gifts. Yes, he died, but because of his faith he still has something to teach us.

5Enoch was taken up through faith and did not die, and he couldn’t be found because God had taken him. God took him because he had pleased God. 6You can’t please God without faith; if you want to approach God you have to believe he exists and that he answers those who seek him.

7By faith Noah was warned by God of things that had never happened before. He believed the warning and built an ark to save his family. In doing this he condemned the world and became heir to the righteousness that springs from faith.

8By faith Abraham obeyed God’s voice calling him to travel to a place that he was to inherit. So, he set out without knowing where he was going. 9But by faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised. It was a foreign land, and he lived in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same – they inherited the same promise that he had been given. 10He was looking ahead to a city that would have foundations, and whose architect and builder is God. 11And by faith he had children even though he was old, and Sarah was barren, because he believed that God, who had made the promise, was faithful. 12So from this one man, and he as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore.”

13All of these died in faith without receiving what had been promised, but they were able to see them from a distance. They realized that they were strangers and foreigners in the world, 14for people who say things like this make it clear that they are searching for a homeland. 15If they had been thinking instead of the land they left behind they would have been able to return. 16But the fact is they wanted a better country, a heavenly one. So, God is not ashamed to be called their God. After all, God has prepared a city for them.

17It was through faith that when Abraham was tested he offered up Isaac. The man who had been given the promises was willing to offer up his only son, 18about whom he had been told that through Isaac he would have children as his descendants. 19He knew that God could even raise the dead and he would receive Isaac back.

20It was by faith that Isaac prayed for blessings in the future upon Jacob and Esau. 21And by faith Jacob, nearing death, blessed each of Joseph’s sons as he bowed in worship over his staff. 22And by faith Joseph, as he approached the end of his life and gave instructions for his burial, told of the exodus of the Israelites.

23By faith Moses’ parents kept him hidden for three months after he was born. They saw that he was not an ordinary child, and they weren’t afraid of the king’s edict. 24And by faith Moses, when he was an adult, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25Instead, he chose to be treated badly with God’s people rather than enjoy the short-lived pleasures of sin. 26He believed that being ill-treated for the Messiah was a greater treasure than all the wealth of Egypt, because he looked to the reward that lay ahead. 27So by faith he left Egypt, ignoring the king’s anger. He persisted because he saw the one who cannot be seen, 28and by faith he observed the Passover and the sprinkling of blood so that the one who had sought to destroy the firstborn would not touch them.

29By faith the people crossed the Red Sea on dry land, but the Egyptians were drowned when they tried to cross.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell after being marched around for seven days. 31By faith the prostitute, Rahab, did not die with those who disobeyed because she had received in peace the men who were sent to spy out the city.

32What more can I say? I don’t have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, or about David and Samuel and the prophets. 33Through faith they conquered kingdoms, distributed justice, received promises, closed the lions’ mouths, 34doused raging fires, escaped the sword, gained strength from weakness, became strong in warfare, and made foreign armies flee. 35Women saw their children resurrected, while others were tortured because they refused to accept freedom in order to gain a better resurrection. 36Others were beaten and mocked, put in chains and imprisoned. 37Some were stoned to death. Some were sawn in two or were killed by the sword. They walked around in sheep skins and goatskins. They were dirt poor and persecuted, even tortured. 38The world wasn’t worthy of any of them. They wandered in the wilderness and over mountains, and lived in caves and holes in the ground.

39Yet not one of them, though commended for their faith, received what was promised, 40because God had something better in mind so that we would be made perfect together.


1-3: Verse 1 is perhaps the most often quoted verse in Hebrews. The author is undertaking in this chapter to describe faith. It is “the assurance of the things we have hoped for.” It is “the certainty of things unseen.” It is the understanding that God created all things.

4-7: He gives examples of the evidence of faith: Abel’s “more acceptable” offering of the best of his sheep; Enoch’s mysterious disappearance, proof that he had pleased God; Noah’s building of the ark.

8-12: He dwells for some time on Abraham as an example of the faithful life: Abraham left his homeland to go to a strange place at God’s behest; and sired a son in his old age.

13-16: The actions of the patriarchs show that they were looking ahead to the fulfillment of God’s promises. They desired a better home and believed it would be given them. God, in answer, has prepared a city for them — a new world of peace and abundant life.

17-19: Abraham’s faith enabled him to be willing to sacrifice Isaac, trusting that God would still provide.

20-28: Other examples of faith are given, of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; of Moses’ parents and of Moses himself when he was grown, shunning material wealth because he saw what glory lay ahead. Faith enabled him to stand up to Pharaoh, and faith helped him to trust that the blood of the lamb would protect his people from the angel of death.

29-31: Faith enabled the people to pass through the sea with water piled up on either side of them. Faith caused the walls of Jericho to collapse. Faith caused Rahab to harbor the spies Joshua sent into Jericho.

32-38: Quickly he “calls the roll” of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, and others, and lists all the suffering they endured.

39-40: He makes a surprising statement here, that none of them received the promised reward. Instead, they were waiting – along with the readers of this letter/sermon — for the institution of the reign of Christ and the perfection of his followers.


We can take courage from examples of those who suffered, but kept the faith. The world tempts us to “curse God and die.” God wishes to bless us and give us eternal life.